papier à cigarette

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Senior Member
French -France
This sentence is puzzling me. There must be an idomatic way of saying this, but how?

"Les concurrents ne sont séparés que par l'épaisseur d'une feuille de papier à cigarette."

"A heartbeat away" seem too much, for the moment I am sticking to:
"The contenders are only separated by a distance as faint as a cigarette paper."
But it sounds so heavy! I'd like somthing that translates the surprise, the unusual event, the fact they are really really close to each other.

Thank you for your help
  • bobepine

    Senior Member
    Canada, English & French
    I wouldn't feel comfortable saying the distance between the two...but you could say that one of the candidates has a paper-thin lead.
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